Saturday, September 6, 2014

Frustrations Home Educators and Their Families Endure

The following is copied from a Facebook status.  I don't know the original author yet, but have asked, so if I find out I will add it here.  

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Common Core LINKS

In this post I will include links to various articles, videos, etc. about Common Core.

The number one reason I oppose Common Core is that it is unconstitutional. It removes local control and gives it to the Federal Government. There is a lot of propaganda out there right now (heavily funded by those who stand to gain power or money), trying to focus the attention on things like making American schools more nationally competitive and preparing students for the workplace. If they can sell these seemingly well-intentioned goals to the masses, the masses will sell all of our birthrights (freedom) for a mess of pottage (higher test scores, etc.). We need to be careful not to give away our freedom and constitutional rights for any reason - in this case because we believe the propaganda they are feeding us. Study deeper! You must find out what is going on behind the scenes in order to judge for yourself if the trade-off is worth what you are giving up for it.


See this article for exactly WHY Common Core is unconstitutional.  
"We cannot oppose Common Core because it does not align with our values. We must oppose it because it violates this country’s principles. The pundits, journalists, etc. who report and commentate on Common Core only serve to further the disease. The commentary should end at Common Core being unconstitutional because it is not an explicit power delegated to Congress and therefore the Tenth Amendment is remedy. 

"Say Common Core was struck down because of the values it teaches, but was kept in place with neutral, or conservative values. Again, many would applaud this as victory. However, you’ve only picked off the flower of the weed, which has roots growing ever deeper through the soil. This is no victory. For it is only a matter of time until someone strikes at the values again and replaces them with their own, thus growing the flower back."


Here is a video presentation by Terrence O. Moore, history professor at Hillsdale College, about how the Common Core destroys minds and souls.  You can start at the six-minute mark without missing any of the main presentation.

THIS blog entry is about Moore's book, The Story Killers, which you can find HERE.


Read this blog post by Wendy Hart, Alpine School District school board member, entitled "Why I Oppose Common Core".

A couple of my favorite quotes, but you simply must read the whole, brief post!
"What are the options should you object, as a parent, as a school, as a district? What are the options if we decide, once we have full implementation and actual experience to back up the Common Core experiment, that we made a mistake? How do we amend? How do we turn back? A few years from now, it will be too late. We have just signed on to a system to eliminate, through attrition, virtually all other options in public education."
"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson
Podcast interview of Heidi Huber of Ohioans Against Common Core by Doc Thompson (The Morning Blaze).  Listen to the CC segment 39:00-53:30.
Doc Thompson Interview 

This is a great 13-minute video called The Assessment Landscape by Chris Tienken.  It's about how one national standardized curriculum without scientific evidence to support their plans is dangerous.  It's a must-see.

This link goes to an interview of Christina Michas by Canada Free Press's Sher Zieve.  This article goes into many of the facets of Common Core, one of the topics is highlighted below.
Interviewer: “Common Core” appears to have all of the earmarks of the old USSR’s programming system for children with several new innovative and chilling twists. It is also firmly tied to Agenda 21—the land-grabbing and human suppression and depopulation program.
Christina Mechas' response simply must be read in its entirety.  Take the time to read this one!

Why would Canadians care what 's happening in U.S. school systems?  It affects all of us - in and out of public schools and in and out of our country.


With all the pushback across our country against Common Core standards and testing it’s almost impossible to keep up! Here is an incomplete list with links to some important, recent news stories you may have missed.

This article from points out that there is criticism of Common Core from all political parties.  One quote from the article: 
"The mutual criticism of Common Core extends to potential uses and abuses under the new standards. Both sides also say Common Core represents an end-run around federal prohibition against a national curriculum. And both argue that the new standards were not really state-driven. They say the Obama administration all but forced states into it by requiring adoption of the new standards in order to be eligible for more than $4 billion in federal "Race to the Top"."
Here are a simple article about the Race To The Top (RTTT) contest for federal funds:
Diane Ravitch - A Pig in a Poke


CC debate from Jan. 6, 2014 in Logan, Utah  One hour, thirty-five minutes.
While it could only scratch the surface on every issue, some good points were made. If you're not willing to watch the whole thing, at least watch the following short segments:
1:19:32-1:20:56 (it's SO much more complex than the state school board wants the public to see)
1:34:00-1:36:52 (very important point about one of the dangers of aligning with 44 other states)

It's not just about standards! One of the biggest problems is that TESTING drives what is taught because educators' jobs are now being directly tied to the test scores of their students. Teachers are having to spend their time making sure the kids can spew forth answers on the tests - at the expense of so many other facets that are important in education, including critical thinking, the arts, physical education, and developing people of good character. In addition to preparing the students for their mandatory tests in 3 subjects, many, many teachers are reporting that required testing takes so much of their teaching time that time for these other subjects is being reduced considerably. And of course so many important traits of really good teachers cannot be measured on a test!

This debate didn't even address data mining and many other pertinent issues. I have been reading multiple articles every day for months and I am still learning new things about it every day. A two-hour debate simply cannot convey all the facets and implications of this problem.


On the subject of accountability TO educators BY parents:
1-minute audio clip


What do you think?  Is Freedom of Education or Equality in Education more important? 
Our state school board and the top lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education believe equality in education is more important than freedom over education.
Carol Lear, USOE top lawyer, was asked, “Why is there no amendment process for the CCSS standards?” She did not claim that there was any amendment process.  Instead, she replied:  “Why would there need to be? The whole point is to be common.” (Email received April 2012 by C. Swasey from C. Lear)

Quote from Leslie Castle, top USSB member:  “I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality…not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality…”
I think this explains a lot!  See the whole article HERE.

The Heartland Institute's commentary on CC science standards states the following, among other very interesting things:
"Individual liberty advocates counter that centralization in education is as foolish and damaging as centralizing the economy. They note the ideological tendencies of science education toward politics as a substitute for actual science, particularly in the area of highly debatable global warming alarmism, which is falsely assumed as reality in these standards. The standards also promote a simplified understanding of science and are still incoherent despite revisions, according to several sets of reviewers. They ignore central scientific concepts and push a progressive teaching style that has been proven to erode student learning, especially for disadvantaged students."

Quotes from many different senators speaking out against Common Core can be found HERE.

HERE are many of the Common Core, testing and student data privacy push-back bills happening right now, almost all over this nation.  The following statement comes from the end of the article: 
If you are a Utahn, did you notice Utah is on the “to be announced” list?  We have no stop Common Core bill yet.  We have too little political pressure from the people upon our leaders.  
But it's not too late, Utahns! Contact our governor and his education advisors. They need to know what the voice of the people is on the subject of education reform.  These issues do not go to a vote. Utah's citizens have never voted on whether or not we should be in the Common Core movement.
But these people hold the power to get us out:
Utah Governor Herbert:
Utah Education Director:
Utah School Superintendent:
Utah State School Board:
Your local school board:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Re-Blogged: Dozens of Links Documenting CC System Far More Harmful Than Good

This post is re-blogged in its entirety.  See original blog HERE.

Dozens of Links Documenting Common Core System Far More Harmful Than Good  

Common Core Concerns
Please click on the links to get to the original source documents that verify Common Core does far more damage than good.

The Race to the Top Grant Application – In this, Utah got points toward possibly winning grant money. Points were awarded in this application for the state’s having a student-tracker, this federally funded, nationally interoperable SLDS database system. (It is illegal to have a national student database; yet, all 50 states have matching, interoperable SLDS systems. The 50 SLDS’s effectually function as a national student database.

States submit K-12 data to the federal Edfacts Exchange –despite the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law which makes such accountability to the federal government illegal. Note that it is not allowed for any Utah student to opt out of being tracked, and parents are not notified nor asked for consent for this P-20 (preschool through grade 20) surveillance.) Also in this application, Utah got points to adopt the Common Core (without having seen any empirical data to prove Common Core academically legitimate). This lure of federal money was how Utah got in to the current bind. Despite not winning any grant money, Utah unfortunately chose to remain in both the Common Core and what amounts to the federal student surveillance program.

It is noteworthy that despite claims that only aggregated data is submitted to Edfacts Data Exchange, the CCSSO (state superintendents society that copyrighted Common Core) has a “stated commitment to disaggregation of data” and numerous federal websites do model student data standardization and invite states to use common data sets which makes it easier to share personally identifiable information, including biometric and behavioral data.
The No Child Left Behind Waiver – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted Common Core. The 15% rule limits innovation and excellence, being enforced in the common core aligned test systems and by textbook sales companies’ near-monopoly on any thought beyond Common Core. The 15% rule is also echoed in multiple documents from governmental and common core corporate developers.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is the federally paid-for database that every state in the U.S. has. It tracks students within the state. But each SLDS can communicate with another. There is no apparent limit to how much information is being collected by schools, and no permission is collected from parents to have such information, nor is there any limit on how much information can be given by states to the federal government about students, because of Department of Education alterations to federal FERPA regulations. Vendors, volunteers and other unwanted “stakeholders” can now be considered “authorized representatives” to access data. Parental consent has been reduced from a requirement to a “best practice.”

The lawsuit against the Department of Education – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the U.S. Department of Education for shredding previously protective federal FERPA law. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

Utah’s Core Standards – This document (link below) has been removed, but it used to show on page four, how Utah lost local control under Common Core. Utah had to ask permission from an unelected D.C. group to alter its own state standards. It said: modified by permission from CCSSO 2010.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that Utah has no local voice in altering the national standards, which were written behind closed doors in D.C. and which can be altered by their creators at any time without representation from the states governed by them.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that power to forcibly redistribute resources, including teachers, principals and money, is a key reason that federal education reformers want a national education system.

The Executive Summary of Race to the Top – see page 3, part D 3. This clearly shows the same tactic: the federal education reformers hope to gain the power to redistribute teachers and principals to their definition of “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.”

The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the Department of Education has mandated a synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC and PARCC under the watchful eye of the Department.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He claims Common Core was Obama’s plan. He also states that he hopes to make schools replace families as the center of people’s lives, with schools open seven days a week, all year round, almost all day long. See video clip:

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s 2020 goal is to control teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the same academic standards and he promotes the underpinning of global education standards with environmental extremism. He promotes ending diversity, using global sameness and uses the term “irreversible reform.” His ruthless book, Deliverology, is dedicated to American education reformers. It advocates delivering a set goal at any price and at any cost. Pearson is the world’s largest education sales company; it’s now partnered with Bill Gates, the second wealthiest man on earth, to promote global common education, devoid of any academic empirical proving that the standards are beneficial rather than harmful.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know Common Core works until all the tests and curriculum align with these standards” and he’s writing curriculum for all. He also speaks of the usefulness of having students be “a uniform customer base.”

The speeches of David Coleman, non-educator, and the lead architect of the Common Core ELA standards who has been promoted to College Board President. He mocks narrative writing, has diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, promotes “informational text” without studying the effect of the reduction of classic literature on students long term, and, although he’s not been elected, yet he’s almost single-handedly reduced the quality and liberty of the high school English teacher’s options. As College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt universities, which now know, for example, that students are not learning Calculus nor much classic literature in high school any more.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance – see p. 62/44 – This U.S. Dept. of Education report assures all that data about behavioral and attitudinal indicators of students are desperately wanted by the federal government. It’s all about controlling students by knowing their inner thoughts. Facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure mouses, wireless skin sensors are all recommended as ways to collect data about children in a continuous stream, in this document.
The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites -Three of these four ask states to match other states’ personally identifiable information collection. – The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that all states do, which does include collecting intimate, personally identifiable information such as bus stop times, nicknames, parental voting record, academic scores, health information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. (CCSS)
The CCSS were rejected by key members of their validation committee, who have published and testified extensively that Common Core is an academic mistake that dramatically weakens high school standards.

American Institutes for Research - AIR’s common core implementation document shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute partnered with the federally funded and federally controlled SBAC testing group. Parents and teachers may not see these subjectively written, attitude assessing test questions; and students cannot succeed in this computer adaptive test, which guarantees that all students fail about half the questions.

HB15 – This bill shows that Utah law requires the assessment of behavior and attitudes. See line 59.

SB 175 – proposed amendments to this bill show that it is Utah educational leadership’s will that any student who opts out of Common Core testing will be punished academically (see line 135) and his/her school will be punished as well (see line 168)

Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere are working to write protective laws guarding data privacy, upholding parental and local teachers’ voices in education, and halting education dollars for unpiloted, experimental Common Core trainings and tests.

They aren’t only concerned that time and money are being invested in an academic train wreck. It’s a precendent-setting liberty issue. Unelected groups now set governance policies that Utahns must abide by. Surely, CCSSO, NGA, Achieve, Inc., or Bill Gates have no constituency. Yet the whims of this group are ruling teachers, administrators and students in Utah.
This is un-American governance.

Common Core: How I began my journey of discovery

About six months ago I realized I couldn't keep putting off learning about Common Core.  I was seeing a lot about it - both in support and in opposition of it - and decided I'd better get in the game and study the facets and evaluate for myself how it would impact me, my family, and our society.  In my first real step of discovery, I invited a young woman I know and trust who had spent several months studying Common Core (with a group of friends and then having discussion groups with them about it) to come into my home to explain her findings to me and anyone else that was interested in learning more.  There were about 25 people at that first meeting that began the opening of my eyes.   

How on earth can I write a blog post or two that summarizes six months of studying every day about a subject?  The task is daunting, which is why I've put it off this long.  However, I have decided to attempt a summary at this point so my voice can be more widely heard and so that many of the articles I've come across can be in one place for those that want to know why I feel so strongly about Common Core.  Much of what I include will be quotes by other people who have already said what I would say.

Facebook status by Jen Sanchez that hits the nail on the head: 
 7 Principles for Family-Friendly Education Policy:
1) Does it honor the parents' natural right to direct the education of their own children?
2) Have you asked the parents?
(Would parents voluntarily opt-IN?)
3) Who is asking for this?
(The interests of business, government, or any other groups are secondary to the rights of the parent as the primary customer and consumer of educational services for their children.)
4) Local control... or central planning?
(Does it support a local/parent-oriented education model, or a more centralized model?)
5) What are the unintended consequences for families?
(What adverse impact could the proposed legislation/policy/new government powers have on individuals and families, now and in the future?)
6) Does it strengthen or weaken parent/child relationships?
7) Does it protect individuals' natural and enumerated rights, per our founding documents?
(Does it protect, for example, the Constitutional right to privacy?)

While leaning about Common Core you'll discover that it does not meet ANY of the criteria listed above. I'm pretty sure most of the people I know want these 7 things, but maybe haven't considered CC in this light before. Take a minute to look at the list, then take as much time as it takes to study CC and decide for yourself if you are satisfied with the whole picture - not just one or two pieces of the puzzle.

“However tame or outrageous you may find the current Common Core curriculum to be at the moment is utterly beside the point. Once every state educational system and local school board is forced to conform to one federal standard … then indoctrination will begin: once it's the law, once it's everywhere, once it's mandatory. What could possibly go wrong??” -Bill Whittle

Common Core 101

The following post is borrowed in its entirety from
 The only changes I've made are formatting changes to make it more easily readable.

What Is Common Core? 
This post aims to be as unmistakably direct and documented as possible.    Feel free to use it without asking permission.

Not for a 4-year university.  It minimally prepares students for the non-collegiate workforce or for non-selective community colleges.
A key Common Core creator, Jason Zimba, said that the Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for STEM careers.  He said:  “I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of college readiness…  but not for the colleges most parents aspire to… Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for U.C. Berkeley,  whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.”


No.  When it changes, it will be changed by those who wrote them. (See official site .)

No. They are under copyright by an unelected, private D.C. group called NGA/CCSSO which has reserved the legal right to alter them.  The federal government has made money and waivers conditional on using Common Core standards and tests.

No one knows.  They are an unpiloted experiment.   But people who are financially invested in Common Core  say yes  to the question, while people who aren’t financially interested, and who study and analyze the Common Core standards, say no.

Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the official Common Core validation committee) reported:

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or GeometryMoreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs."

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas emeritus professor who served on official Common Core validation committee and also refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core) said:

As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum. Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readinessstandards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinkingand completely muddle the development of writing skills.” Full testimony here.

book and kite

No.  Under the Constitution, education belongs to individual states.  It is illegal for the federal government to interfere in the states’ right of making educational decisions.  National standards are illegal.  National data collection is illegal.  And the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits the federal government from directing education –very, very clearly:
No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“  

capitol roof

Yes.  Although it does not specify which classic books cannot be read, the Common Core contains a chart that explains that in fourth grade, students must cut their classic/fiction reading to 50%.  By twelfth grade, students must reduce their classic/fiction reading to 30% with informational text taking up 70% of the time spent reading.

Grade Literary Information
4 50% 50%
8 45% 55%
12 30% 70%   

Informational text is anything that used to belong mostly in other subjects. It is now taking 70% of high school seniors’ English class readings, in the form of scientific writings, political writings; opinion pieces; almost anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays or other fictional works.


It costs money to educate beyond minimal workforce training.  In  this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) we learn that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school;  it’s seen as a waste of time to educate the high school graduates past Algebra II. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while deceptively marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:  “Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
The report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless.  The report says that Common Core will save students from the irrelevant classics with a new emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text:

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

In calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents underscore the idea that job prep matters, but not the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge.

Proponents say that the reason was to improve education.  Opponents say that it had nothing to do with education; that the standards were adopted without analysis or any vetting because the adoption was offered by the federal government under time pressure, in exchange for a chance at large federal grant monies called Race to the Top.  Even those states that applied and won no money (like Utah) stayed with Common Core, because there were many other federal reasons and incentives to do so.
No. Common Core’s official site says:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”  There’s no way for the governed to revise the document by which they’ve agreed to be governed.
common core logo

States can’t delete anything.  We can add –a tiny bit.   A Common Core 15% rule  says: ”A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total  standards”
(This rule is repeated in the federal waivers from No Child Left Behind, in the Race to the Top Assessments Grant application, in documents of both PARCC and SBAC testing groups, and in the implementation guide of Achieve, the group contracted to create Common Core.)

Yes.  Common Core’s official site says:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”  There’s no invitation for the governed to revise.

From believable, expensive marketing lines.  Not from evidence.  Opponents point out that there was never any field testing for Common Core standards;  so this is a national experiment using virtually all children.  Supporters never attempt to explain how education is supposedly improved by Common Core, nor show a pilot state or pilot classroom where Common Core had been successfully used.    Beyond the many pleasant-sounding and but words, there is no documentation or evidence to back up any of the claims that the standards are higher, nor the other claims such as “Common Core was internationally benchmarked” or “is rigorous” or “improves college and career readiness.”  They are baseless advertising words.

Upon this lack of evidence we build our children’s futures.

bill at nga

No.  The standards’ development and marketing was paid for primarily by Bill Gates.  The Common Core tests for most states was paid for primarily by the federal government.  States pay countless millions for the rest of the Common Core Initiative:  the re-training, new text purchases, aligned computer technologies, etc.  They incorrectly say that these high costs would have been spent anyway, even without Common Core.

No.  Secretary Duncan announced and praised the release of the standards in 2010.  He bribed states using Race to the Top grant money.  He contracted with the testing groups to micromanage the Common Core tests, in exchange for federal grant money.

Yes. States received federal ARRA money to implement pre-common core reforms that paved the way for Common Core, including building a State Longitudinal Database System.  There were 4 federal key objectives for education reforms  laid out by President Obama which were the four conditions for receiving stimulus monies.  Federally defined common standards and tests were one of the conditions.

More evidence of bribery and coercion can be seen in the timing of a majority of the states’ adopting Common Core simultaneously with the Race to the Top money lure.  And recently, a group of U.S. Senators have denounced what the Executive Branch (Obama Administration) has done in coercing states with  Common Core bribes.

obama light

Yes.   But Secretary Arne Duncan told the American Society of News Editors that opponents make “outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.” 
He just told a bold-faced lie.  The federal Edfacts Exchange collects data for local, state and federal levels.  The federal government paid for the states to build matching and interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems.  The White House hosts Datapalooza where Common Core and common data standards are spoken of warmly and together.  The Department of Education is listed as a partner at the EIMAC (Education Information Management Advisory Consortia) There are many other things that the Department of Education has done to take away student privacy, aiming aims to align common data standards with common educational standards.

Data Baby

– It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This  created a virtual national database.
– It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data–  “legal”.  Now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

Best practice FERPA

For more information on this, study the lawsuit between the Electronic Information Privacy Center and the Department of Education.

– The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the Data Quality Campaign and the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

Yes.  Educational gains are not the motivator for Common Core.  Notice that proponents are either financially invested in the implementation of Common Core, or else must be subservient to it and call it good because they rely on payment from those who are invested.  The financial obligation should make the following groups’ promotion of Common Core extremely suspect:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - MicrosoftPearson Education - National PTA - Jeb Bush - Harvard University - National Governors’ Association - Council of Chief State School Officers - Fordham Institute – Manhattan Institute – Exxon, and many, many more.

132 professors of Catholic Universities recently wrote  a letter denouncing Common Core on both academic and moral grounds.

Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island has written:
“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”

Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire has written:
The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”

Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College has written:
“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

 Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has written:
“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”  Dr. Tienken also has two powerful short videos on the subject of standards and of assessments.

Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University has written:
“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”

Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University noted:
 “The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.
So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.
But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”

Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College has written:
“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”    (Dr. Moore also wrote a most excellent book about Common Core English standards, entitled “The Storykillers.”)

Dr. Sandra Stotky (spoken of at the top) has written:
“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’…”

“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”
Dr. Stotsky also testified that:

“Beyond the lack of clarity from the outset about what college readiness was intended to mean and for whom, Common Core has yet to provide a solid evidentiary base for its minimalist conceptualization of college readiness–and for equating college readiness with career readiness. Moreover… it had no evidence on both issues.”

“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”

“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”

“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”

“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”

“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”

“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students. At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky

Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado, has written:
“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. • For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. • The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased. • Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs. • The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”

capitol with alyson

Parents and retired teachers, it is up to us to stop this thing.  Teachers who are currently teaching, or principals, or others who work in the education sales industry dare not speak up too loudly or risk losing their jobs.  It is up to us.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Don't Underestimate My Daughter!

A couple of months ago my girls and I were going to begin reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens for a book group we participate in.  Olivia, age 11, went to the library and asked the librarian to help her look it up on the computer system.  The librarian instead looked it up for her and said she'd show her where it was*.   She then told her it was "a pretty big book.  We have a kid version, if you'd like".

Olivia responded that she wanted the unabridged version. 
Librarian: "Are you sure?"
Olivia: "Yes"
Librarian: "We have the sound recording, if that might help.  Tell me when I get the book down for you if it's too big."
Olivia: "It won't be."

She now says she wishes she had said, "I'm small, not stupid!"  Granted, she is small for her age, but the thing that bothers me about this exchange between librarian and patron is that the librarian repeatedly discouraged her from reading the unabridged version.  If a child is willing to read difficult material, why wouldn't we let them?  If it truly is too difficult for her, she will stop reading it and move on to another book, but if it isn't, how much more would she gain by reading the entire book, as written by the brilliant author?

It also bothers me that it is apparently so unusual for children to read big books that the librarian actually questions her ability to read a big book.

P.S.  She read the whole 466-page book and LOVED it! 

*Although this was an example of very nice customer service, it would have actually been more helpful to teach her how to use the computer search fields than to look it up for her.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Go Cart!

One day a few weeks ago, Alex and Olivia decided to build a go-cart.  They have tools in the garage and know how to use them, so they set to work.  They worked for hours, but still needed some help when Dad came home from work.  They petitioned him for assistance and he complied.  We took a trip to the D.I. for wheels ($3) and a seat ($3) and to Home Depot for the other supplies (about $12), then came home and finished it up all in one evening.  They've got a pretty great dad to drop everything to help make their dream a reality and we've got some pretty awesome kids!